Doing our part to keep waterways clean


Dear Editor,

The Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio caused toxic chemicals to enter the Ohio River, which contaminated important water sources and harmed the environment. This tragedy has sparked conversations about how we can better protect our waterways. Our own Clinton County has experienced tragic occurrences over the years on a smaller, but still significant scale. Cowan Lake experienced a chemical spill of sodium hydroxide solution in 2001 from a train wreck (Associated Press, 2001), which caused excessive algae growth that devastated the natural ecosystem by depriving fish and other aquatic animals of oxygen.

More recently, in 2022 a 23,000-gallon diesel fuel spill was caused by an R+L source tank malfunction. This resulted in an estimated 2,000 aquatic animals being killed and the contamination of creeks which led downstream to other areas (Wilmington News Journal, 2022).

We not only need to protect the environment but our own water sources from these tragic types of events or other occurrences. Multiple water sources are important to communities in scenarios such as this past summer of 2022, when PFOA and PFOS compounds, most likely from firefighting foam mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration and used at the Wilmington Air Park, found their way into Wilmington’s city-owned reservoirs. This caused the city to rely on Caesar Creek until the issue could be resolved (WHIO Staff, 2022; Wilmington News Journal, 2022).

We can do our part to keep waterways clean by learning more about source water protection. We can use and dispose of harmful materials properly. Septic systems need to be properly maintained to prevent aquifer and waterway contamination. We can volunteer by finding or starting a watershed or wellhead protection organization or joining a cleanup event (Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.). We should also be vigilant. If you find that our precious water sources might be in danger, contact the proper authorities and make a report. One way to do this is by submitting a complaint to the EPA ( And finally, to combat further tragic events, we can support policy that protects waterways and enables methods of best practices.

Mallory Maloney


No posts to display